The ruling and opposition camps remained at odds on Tuesday after both sides effectively rejected mediation efforts by the Upper House president to resolve the drawn-out row over revision of the electoral system.
Some ruling bloc lawmakers began calling for an immediate end to negotiations and for the bill to go to the Upper House for a vote as early as today.
At the heart of the dispute is a new polling system — one that would allow voters to choose to vote for either a party or individuals — that the ruling bloc rammed through the Diet amid an opposition boycott.
Both sides were poised to officially announce their rejection of the compromise proposal made Monday by House of Councilors President Juro Saito. He had suggested having half the lawmakers in the coming election be elected under the old system and half under the new.
However, due to fears that such an obvious failure by the chamber president to coax a compromise could lead to calls for his resignation from opposition lawmakers, the scheduled meeting between the warring camps and Saito was canceled.
In its place, representatives of the ruling and opposition parties met on and off with Upper House Vice President Hisamitsu Sugano to try to find a way to break the deadlock.
Sugano floated the idea that next summer’s Upper House election be held under the current system, while the revised system, which was voted through an Upper House panel last week with the opposition absent, be effective from the poll after that, in 2004.
This idea was supported by the opposition — the Democratic Party of Japan, the Japanese Communist Party, the Liberal Party and the Social Democratic Party. The ruling triumvirate — the Liberal Democratic Party, New Komeito, and the New Conservative Party — rejected it on the spot, Diet sources said.
The opposition’s boycott of all Diet deliberations has entered its third week as both camps remain unable to compromise on the ruling bloc plan to revise the roster system for the proportional representation section of Upper House polls.
The revisions would overturn a system that allows ballots to be only cast for parties, not individual candidates on party rosters.
The new system supported by the coalition would allocate seats to parties based on the number of votes they or their candidates receive. The parties would then assign seats to candidates in accordance with their performances.
The opposition argues that the proposed changes would make campaigning in elections more costly.
Some critics add that a party could get an extremely popular nonpolitician on its ticket and use the huge number of votes cast for that person to secure seats for other candidates on their party ticket.
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